Dubai – MENA Herald: With the UAE’s food and beverage (F&B) market growing at an annual rate of four per cent and projected to be worth AED 48.5 billion by 2018 according to Euromonitor International, surging market potential has driven unprecedented demand for exhibition space at The Speciality Food Festival, Yummex and SEAFEX – a trio of niche food industry events powered by Gulfood running from 7-9 November 2016 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC).

In-line with regional demand for specialty, Halal, gourmet, organic and other high-end, premium quality food products, this year’s trio of specialist food events are poised to be more than 10 per cent larger than last year’s shows.

“The popularity of clean, natural, sustainable, artisan and other high quality produce including seafood and confectionery across the region continues to grow year-on-year,” said Trixie LohMirmand, Senior Vice President, Exhibitions & Events Management, DWTC. “The trend is evident in consumer buying patterns, as well as bulk buyers and hospitality outlets seeking to capitalise on demand by providing more innovative culinary offerings to diners.”

The growing popularity of niche food products is being predominantly driven by the UAE’s young, affluent and well-travelled population. A recent survey by Visa revealed that 89 per cent of UAE consumers eat out every week, while market research by Real Estate Consultants CBRE currently ranks the UAE as the world’s third largest market per capita for food and beverage consumption.
In-line with increased exhibitor demand for The Speciality Food Festival, SEAFEX and Yummex – formerly known as Sweets & Snacks Middle East and celebrating its 10th anniversary with partner Koelnmesse GmbH – more than 30 C-Level buying delegations from the region’s major retail outlets, hotels and mass catering companies will descend on the specialist food events to source new products from around the world.
The major buyers include top-level procurement delegations from regional and international brands including Jumeirah Group, Spinneys, Waitrose, Emirates Flight Catering, Rotana Group, Manuel Market, Carrefour Hyatt Group and Dubai Duty Free to name a few.
Mohammed Kapital, Vice President Supply Chain and Logistics, said: “We are proud to partner with the Dubai World Trade Centre and support the Middle East and North Africa’s largest food and beverage trade event. The specialty food festival, SEAFEX and Yummex is the principal procurement platform for sourcing specialist food products for use across Jumeriah Group’s extensive UAE network of hotels and restaurants. Our team has received industry awards for its cutting edge procurement and business strategies and we are honored to support the event.”
Andrew Pert, DWTC’s Portfolio Exhibitions Director of the three specialist food events, added: “Identifying and sourcing superior quality products from trusted food suppliers is now a commercial necessity for F&B entities across the region. With MENA regions burgeoning tourism and strong hotel occupancy – led by Dubai , our three specialist food platforms give retail and hospitality players access to thousands of premium food products, many of which are completely new to the market.”
The tastes and preferences of the Middle East’s consumers are also the primary inspiration behind an array of colourful new features taking place at the specialist food events. Heading the list is the all-new and completely sold-out Global Date Market. The dedicated area is witnessing huge demand from exhibitors in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq, Tunisia, Sri-Lanka and the USA who are eager to export dates as healthy snack and dessert products to international markets.

Similarly, the Speciality Coffee Event MENA will attract regional baristas and coffee companies battling for a lion’s share in a domestic coffee market which generated sales of AED544.5 million last year – up 10 percent on 2015 – according to international market researchers, Euromonitor.
With a total of 2,200 new café licenses being issued across the GCC last year according to Euromonitor, the Speciality Coffee Event MENA is a tailored platform for baristas, café owners, restaurateurs and hoteliers looking to source from hundreds of gourmet and organic coffee blends around the world that appeal to high-end consumers at the lucrative end of the market.
This year, Italy has become the first country partner for the Speciality Food Festival. The partnership with the Italian Trade Agency will bring a number of key features to the exhibition, including various summits, competitions and food experiences from across Italy which will unearth the latest flavors from Italian Michelin-starred and master chefs through live classes and demonstrations, tech talks and contests designed to appraise the handiwork of pizza chefs, risotto aficionados and gelato artists.
Another first for the events is the co-located platform Future Food Live, a Dubai Municipality initiative hosted under the Gulfood umbrella to run alongside The Speciality Food Festival, Yummex in partnership with Koelnmesse GmbH and SEAFEX. Trade visitors focusing on the wellbeing segment will discover the full spectrum of organic, halal and other healthy food products, with an additional focus on agritech equipment for farm production. Attendees will include everyone from global food specialists and distributors to large-scale government-backed farms.
DWTC’s trio of niche food events are open from 10am-5pm from 7-9 November 2016 and are for trade and business professionals only. General public and persons under the age of 21 will not be permitted entry. Registration is available at the show upon proof of trade status.